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The Playlist

Cannes Review: ‘Misunderstood’ By Asia Argento, Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • May 26, 2014 10:31 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Incompresa, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Asia Argento
There’s something irresistibly hip about Asia Argento, even as a concept. The sultry, pouty daughter of trash-horror maestro Dario Argento, her public image as a wild child jack-of-all-trades-as-long-as-they’re-kinda-glamorous (actress, singer, model, director) does make her something of a poster girl for tough, troubled, attitude-y cool (just check out her Cannes red carpet pic or her Twitter account for that matter). But after her first two forays into directing, “Scarlet Diva” (in which she also starred as a self-destructive starlet) and child abuse chronicle “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things,” she has shifted gears in several ways with her third: she makes a brief, Hitchcock-level cameo but doesn’t star, and most welcome, she moves from straight-up miserablism to a beguiling cockeyed whimsy.

Cannes Review: Studio Ghibli's 'The Tale Of Princess Kaguya' Is An Artful Return For Isao Takahata

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 26, 2014 10:02 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Studio Ghibli is at a real crossroads in its history. The legendary Japanese animation studio has become a respected name even in the West, thanks to a string of classics that trump even Pixar, but last year, the legendary Hayao Miyazaki debuted "The Wind Rises," the film he claims will be his final one (and certainly feels like it's putting a period at the end of a career).

Cannes Review: Sergei Loznitsa’s Ukranian Crisis Documentary ‘Maidan’

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • May 26, 2014 9:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Maidan
Sergei Loznitsa is no stranger to Cannes, both of his previous features competing for the Palme d’Or with 2012’s “In The Fog” winning the critics’ FIPRESCI prize. So when news went around that he’s making a documentary on the Ukrainian protests, there was only one place for it to premiere. “Maidan” is a study of a people under stress, a spirit hindered by totalitarianism, and the grasping of patriotic straws with the last God-given strength a nation has. The trouble with the picture is that it’s barren of cinematic context; the camera doesn’t so much as tilt or pan, remaining irrevocably fixed and observing straight ahead.

Cannes Review: Matthew Warchus' Moving, Progressive Crowd-Pleaser 'Pride' Starring Bill Nighy, Dominic West & Paddy Considine

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 26, 2014 8:03 AM
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  • 2 Comments
It sometimes feels that the British film industry only makes about three or four different kinds of movies: dreadful gangster films that rarely get a release abroad, gritty social realism pictures, period costume dramas, and semi-quirky comedies with a tearjerking side, exemplified by something like "Billy Elliot" or "The Full Monty," but more often turning out like "Calendar Girls" or "Song For Marion."

Cannes 2014: 'Winter Sleep' Takes Palme D'Or, 'Foxcatcher' Gets Best Director, Plus All The Winners

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • May 24, 2014 1:13 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Cannes Film Festival Poster
Roll up the Red Carpet; hang up your tux; let down your chignon; the Cannes Film Festival drew to a typically glamorous close this evening with the glitzy award ceremony, at which Jury president Jane Campion and her unprecedentedly female-majority panel announced their award decisions. The big news? Long-time bookie’s favorite "Winter Sleep” taking the coveted Palme d'Or, much to Playlister Jessica Kiang’s dismay and Playlister Nikola Grozdanovich’s joy (check out Jess’ review and Nik’s rebuttal)

Cannes Review: Un Certain Regard Top Prize Winner & Doggy Revenge Film ‘White God’

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • May 23, 2014 3:13 PM
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  • 0 Comments
It’s a classic exploitation/revenge narrative. Hagen and Lili are best friends, until Lili goes to live with her father, who doesn’t approve of Hagen and forces them apart. Unmoored from Lili’s protective influence, Hagen wanders the streets, making tentative friends with a similar hard-luck story, before being captured and sold into bondage. Once his potential as a fighter is spotted, he is trained to become a bloodthirsty killer, only to flee and be caught again, this time put behind bars to essentially await execution. But here he suddenly finds the resources to put his newfound viciousness to use, staging a bloody escape and leading an army of fellow inmates on a rampage of revenge, encompassing everyone who’s done him wrong along the way, right back to Lili, whose abandonment was the first and maybe greatest betrayal. Lili is a young girl who plays trumpet in a youth orchestra; Hagen is a dog.

Cannes: Bruno Dumont Fascinates With Ambitious 3 ½-Hour Comedy Series ‘P’Tit Quinquin’

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • May 23, 2014 1:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
P'tit Quinquin
Mental disorder, disease, murder, and confounding evil. Not exactly the makings of a slapstick comedy, but this is Bruno Dumont we’re talking about. Known, by the few who dare to know him, as a seriously depressing and morose filmmaker, Dumont is so fascinated by the grotesque side of human nature, he can’t even make a comedy without putting the subject front and center. Dumont is back in television format with the mini-series “P’tit Quinquin.”

Cannes Review: John Boorman's 'Queen And Country,' A Solid Sequel To Oscar-Nominee 'Hope & Glory'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 23, 2014 12:29 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Queen And Country
Of all the many, many sequels to land in theaters this year, by far the most unexpected is "Queen And Country." It follows up a film released 27 years ago, and which was never more than a modest hit. It doesn't have superheroes or dragons or aging action heroes. It's an autobiographical period piece set in 1950s England. And we'd wager that it will end up being better than most of the more cynically-planned sequels that are coming down the pipe. It's flawed, but has enough worthwhile in it to make it a very welcome return for John Boorman.

Cannes Review: Andrei Zvyagintsev's Searing, Powerful Russian Epic 'Leviathan'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 23, 2014 10:53 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Between Pussy Riot, the continued persecution of homosexuality, the Sochi Olympics and the invasion of the Ukraine, all eyes have been on Russia so far in 2014. And that's been true at Cannes too. "The Search" examined previous Russian aggression in Chechnya, while "Maidan" took a ground's eye view of events in Ukraine. But most hotly anticipated of all was "Leviathan" from director Andrei Zvyagintsev, who has had one of the most meteoric rises in world cinema. His 2003 debut "The Return" won the Golden Lion at Venice, 2007's "The Banishment" picked up Best Actor at Cannes, and 2011's "Elena" won the Special Jury Prize in Un Certain Regard. He's back on the Croisette this year, promoted to the main Competition for his fourth, and grandest picture yet, "Leviathan," which has already been tipped by many for the Palme d'Or. And rightly so, because it's absolutely fantastic.

Cannes Review: Olivier Assayas’ ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ Starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart And Chloë Grace Moretz

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • May 23, 2014 7:04 AM
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  • 97 Comments
Clouds Of Sils Maria
Ever watched a movie and thought “Man, I wish this film had a line of dialogue (or 300) that explained exactly what it wants to be about?” Well, have you ever got a treat in store with “Clouds of Sils Maria”! The new film from Olivier Assayas which screened for press this morning as the last Palme d’Or competitor for Cannes 2014, is a curious type of failure: a film that mistakes needless complexity for depth, and in so doing tells us time and again what it’s about—art vs life, aging, identity, female jealousy, manipulation and insecurity—without ever actually being about those things.

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